AOR is probably the best known and most innovative manufacturer of radio scanners. Their latest product, the AR-DV1DX, is the first receiver on the ham radio market, which can handle both analog and digital signals. Like its bigger brother, the AR5001, the AR-DV1DX is one of the few receivers which combines digital and analog receiving technology. The AR-DV1DX is a direct conversion receiver from 100kHz to 18MHz and this feature makes it a SDR (software defined radio). From 19MHz to 1300MHz the radio uses the analog double and triple conversion technology. For demodulation, decoding and filtering of the signals downstream DSP (Digital Signal Processing) is applied.
Operation of the AR-DV1DX
The AR-DV1Dx stands firmly on the table. Thanks to its rubber feet, it does not slide around at all. The volume control must be pressed. This arresting decoder and the squelch control beneath it are not very smooth. After depressing the orange display lights up and the AR-DV1DX is initialized within 10 seconds. Frequency selection is easy. Enter the numerals (and if necessary the decimal point) and press "Enter". For mode selection you press the "Mode" button, select the desired mode and press "Enter". Programming the step size, frequencies and memory banks is more complex. Most functions are hidden in the secondary function menu and can be reached by pressing the "Function Key". Getting used to the double-function buttons takes some time. The German manual, which is supplied by the Boger company, is very helpful. Using the English manual is difficult, unless you have a good command of the English language. The control concept is similar to that of other AOR radios. Experienced AOR-users should not have a lot of difficulties operating the AR-DV1.
Due to the small dimensions of the enclosure, the display is relatively small, too. But the dot-matrix display is light, readable and contains a lot of information about the status of the receiver. According to individual taste, the color of the push buttons can be blue, red, magenta, green, cyan, yellow or orange.
On the front, there is a USB port and a SD card interface. . On this 4GB SD-card, which is included, you can make audio recordings. It is also used for firm updates and for saving the memories. With the "Commandlist", which is also included, the experienced programmer can remotely control the AR-DV1. It's too bad that this is restricted to the specialist. Unfortunately, AOR does neither include memory programming software or control software.
On the rear panel you can find the following connectors: DC-12V input, external speaker connector, AUX-output, BNC antenna input.
Although the AR-DV1DX is an ultra-modern receiver, it comes with an old-fashioned transformer power supply. Good for AOR!! As of late, most radios come with switching power supplies. which are cheap and cause interferences when listening to stations in the long-, medium, and shortwave range.
Reception on Long-, Medium-, and Shortwave
In order to assess the performance of the AR-DV1DX, I compared it to the ICOM IC-R8500 , which is also a broadband receiver. But of course, the IC-R8500 belongs to a different price category.
For the test, the firmware versions 1512D and 1601B were used.
Both receivers start at 100 kHz and so a comparison on 147.3kHz is appropriate. On this frequency, the German Weather Service transmits in RTTY. For decoding I used the program "Zorns Lemma", which can decode Synop-coded weather programs. Here, the AR-DV is at an advantage because it offers narrower filter widths than the IC-R8500. My IC-R8500 only has a 2.4 kHz filter. On long-, medium-, and shortwave I used the brand-new NTi ML052 antenna with a 4 square meter loop.
On 147.3 kHz, the AR-DV1 renders the better signal because of its narrower filter. As can be seen in the video, decoding is no problem.
The next test was on 7646kHz, another frequency of the German Weather Service just with a wider shift. Both receivers showed a flawless signal with no problem for the decoder. At 3:17 min in the video you will notice a short intermodulation in the background which shows that on effective antennas, the AR-DV1DX tends to overload.
Reception from DWD on 147,3KHz & 7646KHz (HD)
A good reception of radio programs on long wave is only possible with appropriate antennas. Unfortunately, the AR-DV1 only tolerates effective antennas to a limited degree. . On the ML052, there were some intermodulation and "ghost stations" to be noticed. The IC-R8500, on the other hand, had no problems here. If you connect the AR-DV1DX with a passive discone antenna, e.g. the Diamond D-130, reception on long wave is possible, but you will only hear the strongest stations. During daytime, reception of BBC on 198 kHz is almost impossible. What I noticed next, was the tinny sound of the AR-DV1DX. The bass range was missing altogether.
On medium wave, reception was only possible with the Discone D-130. With the broadband ML052, intermodulation and a stronger noise level were noticeable. If you want to you use highly effective antennas for the AR-1DX, you need preselection or selective antennas, e.g., the Grahn GS5-SE.
Listening tests on short wave showed the same results, although reception was a little quieter. With the highly effective magnetic loop antenna NTi ML052, reception without overmodulation was possible during day time. When I used the Discone Diamond D-130, the signal strength decreased, but reception of the broadcast stations was better and the noise level was noticeably diminished. The automatic attenuator does not seem to contribute a lot to signal attenuation, in fact, it could hardly be noticed. If you connect the AR-DV1 to a highly effective antenna, you definitely have to use a preselector. I used mine with a high degree of success. The electronics of this preselector are by RFT and of high quality. When the signal was filtered with the preselector, reception was very good. Weak stations, e.g., Alcaravan on 5910kHz and Brasilia on 11780 kHz could be received well enough.
For AM-reception, the AR-DV1DX has a synchronous detector, which works satisfactorily. Unfortunately though, the selection of band widths is rather limited. I can't understand, why the 8kHz band width cannot be selected. With only 5.5kHz, the synchronous detector sounded rather muffled. For Synch-operation, only 5.5 kHz and 3.8 kHz are available. The synchronous detector has selectable side bands with the atypical labeling "SAH" for upper sideband and "SAL" for lower sideband.
SSB reception, on the other hand, worked remarkably well. With its 1.8kHz and the 2.6kHz bandwidth filters, the AR-DV1Dx sports sensible band widths. Reception with the 2.6 kHz filter was especially very impressive. Amateur radio stations and professional Volmet stations could be received very well.
Up to 18MHz, the AR-DV1DX is a software defined radio (SDR). Despite the fact that the AR-DV1Dx has a low pass filter, FM-flashovers could be noticed when using the broadband Discone Diamond D-130. Between 17 MHz and 18 MHz these were very noticeable and could be identified easily when I switched to FM and a bandwidth of 200 kHz. After some research, I found out that the transmitting antenna of the FM-station in question was approx. 4 km away. These FM flashovers could not be noticed when I used the ML052 because it has a FM blocking filter.
Boger Electronics recommends the following antenna types for the AR-DV1DX. Link.
Reception on FM, VHF and UHF
This is what the AR-DV1DX was built for, reception above 30MHz. When I compared this radio to the IC-R8500, there were small differences, which are of no relevance, though. With its good sensitivity, its selectivity and fast scan, the AR-DV1DX was convincing in the upper frequency ranges and was on par with the IC-R8500. As far as the selection of band width filters and complex scanning functions are concerned, the AR-DV1DX is definitely better than the IC-R8500. Thanks to the 100 kHz and 200kHz band width filters, FM-reception is especially good, the 100 kHz filter is almost suitable for DXing. For such a modern receiver, RDS (Radio Data System) would have been desirable, though.
Due to its 8.33 kHz step width, reception of aeronautical services in AM proved to be especially effective. The IC-R8500 does not have this step width. Because of its two squelch functions, "Level-Squelch" and "Noise-Squelch", the best setting could always be selected. When switching to "automatic", both squelch functions can be used simultaneously. This worked better than the "VSC" function of the IC-R8500.
Amateur radio activity on 2m and 70cm is very rare in area. At the weekend, I finally succeeded in receiving a few QSOs and almost no differences between the two receivers were noticeable, except for the audio. I noticed how tinny and treble-prone the audio of the AR-DV1Dx is.
Reception of Digital Voice
Now we are coming to the highlight of the AR-DV1DX: The reception of digitally encoded transmissions. In the meantime, all well-known manufacturers of amateur radios offer their own digital modes. Unfortunately, these are not compatible. So far, the AR-DV1DX is the only receiver which includes all digital modes of amateur radio, decodes them and makes them audible.
If you select the "Auto" mode, the receiver switches automatically to the correct mode as soon as a signal has been detected and decoded. As already mentioned, the VHF and UHF activities of the local ham radio operators are rather limited and during the month that I had the AR-DV1Dx at my home, I could not receive a single Digital Voice transmission!
Fortunately, a lot more is going on in Germany as regards Digital Voice. To get at least an overview of digital activity, I contacted Jochen Berns (DL1YBL). Recently, Jochen has produced some informative videos for a test of the AR-DV1DX in the "Funkamateur“ magazine (2/2016). He allowed me to include these videos on my web page. Thank you, Jochen DL1YBL !
The AR-DV1Dx is a special receiver in two ways. It combines a SDR and conventional, analogue reception technology and its highlight: "Digital Voice." Because of a lack of activity I could not test these digital modes. But as Jochen Berns' videos show, reception works without any problems and I refer to the tests in the "Funkamateur" magazine (2/2016). I focused on the lower frequency ranges, instead.
To make full use of the potential of the AR-DV1DX, you should use a preselector. Highly effective antennas, such as the ML052, the HDLA or the ALA1530S+ are too much for the input stages of the receiver, especially during the evening hours and at night. The AR-DV1Dx tolerates the Discone Diamond D-130 or similar antennas a lot better. If you use passive antennas and do not want to do serious 'hardcore' DXing, you will enjoy the AR-DV1Dx.
The audio on long-, medium-, and shortwave is not very balanced. It is unusually tinny but offers good intelligibility. The AM-synchronous detector is surely a nice addition for such a type of receiver but it needs some tweaking. A 8kHz band width filter would also be welcome. Because practically all functions of the AR-DV1DX are software based, I am sure that AOR will make some improvements with firmware updates.
A big thank you to "Boger Electronics" for putting the radio at my disposal.
Product info AOR AR-DV1DXDX Version Boger Electronics offers the exclusive DX-version! "DX" is our quality seal! With "DX" you are on the safe side because you bought your radio from the only authorized dealer for AOR products in Germany! In Germany, we act as a manufacturer and take care of legal regulations such as CE-Conformity, extensive and checked German manuals, service and parts supply for at least 10 years. (Quotation from Boger Electronics)